Hundreds on song for special concert

First published in News by

Oxford is set to echo with the sound of classical music as hundreds of singers prepare to join a mass choir on Sunday.

Conductor Ivor Setterfield, who took the Blackbird Leys Choir to the Royal Albert Hall for a television series, is bringing singers and choristers from across the area together for a community rendition of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.

Up to 700 people are expected to fill the Town Hall, in St Aldate's, for the event, called Oxford Sings.

The performance will be broadcast on BBC Radio Oxford and filmed for a forthcoming Channel Five TV programme, The Singing Estate One Year On, which will follow the lives of the stars from the Blackbird Leys Choir since they appeared on the nation's TV screens.

Many of the singers, who are still performing together and were recently invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace with the Queen, are expected to take part in Sunday's event.

Mr Setterfield said: "The Singing Estate brought classical music to a wider audience, both to the people who enjoyed the choir and those who watched the prog- ramme.

"Perhaps people thought classical music wasn't for them, but got the chance to see it isn't too far away and it could be part of their lives.

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"I'm hoping singers will learn from the experience of the Blackbird Leys Choir and send the message out that this is what you can get from singing.

"I want to make the whole of Oxford sing on Sunday."

The event is open to anyone in the Oxford area and previous experience of singing is not necessary.

To take part, you must attend the rehearsals at the County Music Service headquarters, at Bayards Hill School, in Waynflete Road, Barton, from 9.30am. The performance starts at 2.30pm. Call Tim Hancock on 0207 502 5858 or email sing@northonetv.com Mr Setterfield added: "I won't say I'm worried. I was asked the same question when I took on the Blackbird Leys project and I'm confident that I can help people learn how to sing in that one day, but I'm relying on everybody pulling out the stops.

"I'm very excited about the project.

"It will be an interesting challenge, because I don't know how many people will turn up."

Mr Setterfield spent three months with residents in Blackbird Leys, turning them into a classical choir.

Sunday's event is part of the Fivearts Cities project, taking place in Oxford over a period of 12 months.

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